13-man Waterford survive late stand from Westmeath
Liam Cahill looks to the bench to ensure his side avoid a shock defeat at Walsh Park
Mikey Kearney scores Waterford’s goal in their win over Westmeath. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Waterford 1-22 Westmeath 1-19
When Westmeath’s Killian Doyle crashed a 20-metre free to the net just two points separated the sides with five minutes of normal time remaining. However, Liam Cahill had already sent for the cavalry by that stage with captain Conor Prunty joining the fray late on as fellow substitutes Kevin Moran and Kieran Bennett hit three late points to secure the win.
This was an experimental Waterford side with just two players who started last December’s All-Ireland final in the starting XV. Nonetheless it was the home side who looked far more assured in possession and quickly set about their task. Former underage star Patrick Curran was unerring from frees with fellow All-Ireland minor winner Mikey Kearney shooting to the net after 15 minutes to leave Waterford leading 1-8 to 0-6 at the opening water break.
Shane Fives was outstanding in the home defence and despite the heavy showers DJ Foran and half-back Kieran Power both had two points from play before the end of the opening half. Westmeath did improve as the half progressed with excellent points from Aonghus Clarke and Davy Glennon leaving six points between the teams, 1-12 to 0-9 at the interval.
Jack Fagan was the first player to receive his marching orders on 50 minutes for a second bookable offence but Waterford continued to control the game. Curran’s accuracy was crucial in keeping Waterford in the ascendancy and they led 1-18 to 0-14 when the teams broke for the second water interval.
Westmeath hit three of the next four points from Glennon and Niall O’Brien (two) to reduce their deficit to just five points by the 60th minute. Numerical parity was then restored when Westmeath’s Cormac Boyle received a straight red for a high challenge on Peter Hogan.
Killian Doyle who assumed the free taking duties netted from a 20-metre free in the 65th minute to put the prospect of a shock firmly in view. However, three quick points in succession from the experienced Moran and Bennett (2) was enough to steer Waterford home. Substitute Darragh Lyons was the second Waterford dismissal when he saw red before the final whistle.
Waterford: S O’Brien; I Kenny, S Fives, T Barron; S Keating, I Daly, K Power (0-2); P Hogan (0-1), B Power (0-1); J Fagan, P Curran (0-11, 11 frees), DJ Foran (0-3); J Prendergast (0-1), M Kiely, M Kearney (1-0). Subs: J Dillon for B Power (45m), K Moran (0-1) for Foran, D Hutchinson for Kiely and K Bennett (0-2) for Power (53m), D Lyons for Hogan (63m), C Prunty for Barron and C Sheehan for Curran (67m).
Westmeath: E Skelly; D Egerton, T Doyle, C Shaw; A Craig, A Clarke (0-1), S Clavin; C Boyle (0-1), R Greville; J Boyle, C Doyle, D Glennon (0-3); N O’Brien (0-6, six frees), N Mitchell, K Doyle (1-7,five frees). Subs: T Gallagher for Clavin and J Coll (0-1) for J Boyle (ht), B Doyle for Shaw (45m), S Williams for O’Brien (48m), D Clinton for C Boyle (53m), J Galvin for Glennon (63m).
Referee: C McAllister (Cork).